Section 2: The Labour Market

5.         Average Earnings

Tables 5(a), 5(b) and 5(c) display the gross average hourly earnings for full-time employees in total and for manufacturing and service industries separately by sex. Chart 5 illustrates the changes in average hourly earnings of full - time employees between 1998 and 2002.

During 2002, the hourly earnings (including overtime) of full-time employees in London were higher than any other UK region at £15.40 (an increase of just over 5 per cent on the previous year). Earnings in the South East were next highest at £11.90 per hour. This compares to an average of £11.20 per hour for the UK as a whole. During 2002, the lowest earnings were recorded in Northern Ireland and the North East at £9.70 per hour. However, growth in hourly earnings in the North East between 2001 and 2002, at nearly 7 per cent, was among the highest in any region of the UK (as compared to a UK average of just below 6 per cent).

Growth in earnings between 1998 and 2002 for the UK as a whole was just over 25 per cent, with London, again growing most quickly with an increase of 28 per cent. Earnings in Northern Ireland grew at the slowest rate during this period, with a rise of just over 18 per cent.  This was nearly 7 percentage points below the increase across the UK as a whole between 1998 and 2002.

However, comparisons of the value of hourly earnings between regions as well as over time should be interpreted with caution. These estimates do not take account of regional variations in the cost of living and to that extent, do not represent the true ‘buying power’ of these earnings. No Retail Price Indices are produced for individual regions by ONS.

Chart 5

6.         Employment

Chart and Table 6(a) detail the number of people of working age who are in employment (by their region of residence) whilst Chart and Table 6(b) illustrate this as a proportion of working age people. The Labour Force Survey employment estimates used in Tables 6(a) and 6(b) are only consistent with the 2001 Census population at the UK level. For further details refer to the first paragraph of the Definitions Section.

During the summer of 2002, three quarters of working age people in the UK were in employment.  The non - seasonally adjusted number of people in employment was the highest ever measured by the Labour Force Survey.  The highest proportion of the resident working age population in employment was in the South East at just over 80 per cent. In each quarter in Table 6(b), the South East had the highest proportion of working age people in employment.  The lowest proportion during summer 2002 occurred in Northern Ireland at just below 68 per cent. This was 7 percentage points below the rate for the UK.

Table 6(c) and Chart 6(c) cover each region’s share and total number of employee jobs in the UK between June 2000 and June 2002.  London is the biggest single labour market containing around 16 per cent of all employee jobs within the UK during this time. The level of employee jobs grew most quickly in the South West, with jobs levels increasing by more than 3 per cent between 2000 and 2002. This was nearly 5 times the growth rate evident across the UK as a whole during the same time. The largest decrease over the same period occurred in the North East, with a fall in jobs levels of just over 2.5 per cent. 

Relatively high levels of commuting into London should be taken into consideration when looking at region’s shares of the UK labour market. The Labour Force Survey assigns employees to where they live in those cases where their region of work and residence are different, and indicates that approximately 12.5 per cent of workers in the UK actually lived in London during summer 2002.

Chart 6(a)
 
Chart 6(b)
 
Chart 6(c)

7          Unemployment

UK unemployment is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Chart 7(a) details the non - seasonally adjusted unemployment rate between 2000 and 2002, with Map 7(b) illustrating the fall in the unemployment rate between summer 1998 and summer 2002.

During summer 2002, the unemployment rate was lowest in the South East and East regions at 3.9 per cent, as compared to a rate for the UK as a whole of 5.4 per cent. During this time, London had the highest rate of unemployment of any UK region (at 7.1 per cent), a rise of half a percentage point on the same period a year earlier.

Map 7(b), illustrates that falls in the unemployment rates occurred in every UK region between summer 1998 and summer 2002. The largest falls were in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside, with the rate for both regions falling by 2.3 percentage points over this period, and in Wales where unemployment fell by 2.2 percentage points – compared with an overall decrease across the UK as a whole of 1.1 percentage points.

Chart 7(a)
 
Map 7(b)

8.   Claimant Count

The Claimant Count is the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, taken from monthly records. Table 8(a) gives the claimant count rate as a proportion of workforce jobs (plus claimants) in the region. 

Claimant Count rates during October 2002 were highest in the North East with a rate of 4.9 per cent, and lowest in the South East at 1.7 per cent.  

Table 8(b) details the proportion of all claimants in receipt of the Job Seeker’s Allowance benefit for a year or longer. Over the UK as a whole, this proportion has fallen from just over 31 per cent of all claimants during October 1997 to just above 16 per cent in October 2002 (a fall of nearly 15 percentage points). The highest percentage of long - term claimants during October 2002 was in Northern Ireland, where just below 24 per cent of benefit recipients had been claiming for a year or longer. However, between October 1997 and October 2002 the proportion of long-term claimants in Northern Ireland fell at a much quicker rate than any other area of the UK (with a drop of just over 23 percentage points during this time).

Chart 8(b)

9.         Educational and Vocational Attainment

The indicators included within this section relate directly to three of the National Learning Targets for England although data are also provided for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Refer to Definitions for a full description of the five targets.

Table 9(a) and Chart 9(a) detail the proportion of 19 year olds attaining 5 or more GCSEs at grade C or above, or an NVQ level 2 or equivalent.  The target for England was for 85 per cent to have achieved this by 2002. During spring 2002 the attainment level for England was nearly 75 per cent, with no individual region achieving the target of 85 per cent.  Of the English regions, the South East came closest with just under 80 per cent (an improvement of nearly 2 percentage points on the previous year). Across the UK as a whole, Northern Ireland had the highest attainment rate, at 82 per cent. However, the figures in Table 9(a) are based on a relatively small sample of people and because of this to this can be subject to relatively high levels of sampling variation.

Chart 9(a)

Tables 9(b) and 9(c) and Chart 9(b) provide the proportions of economically active adults qualified to at least NVQ level 3/equivalent (where the England target was 50 per cent of adults by 2002) or NVQ level 4/equivalent (with a target for England of 28 per cent). 

Across England during spring 2002, 54.5 per cent of economically active adults in London were qualified to NVQ level 3 or above. The South East (at just under 51 per cent) was the only other region apart from London to meet the NVQ level 3 target for England.

The proportion of economically active adults in both London and the South East with qualifications at NVQ level 4 or higher has exceeded the national target consistently over the period shown in Table 9(c). During spring 2002 the rates were 38 per cent and nearly 31 per cent in these regions respectively.  Across the UK as a whole Scotland had the second highest NVQ level 4 rate of achievement at 33 per cent.

Chart 9(d) and Table 9(d) provide the proportion of economically active persons in each region who have no qualifications. As at spring 2002, Northern Ireland (at nearly 16 per cent) and Wales (at just over 13 per cent), had the highest percentages of economically active adults with no qualifications in UK.  However, the proportion in Northern Ireland had decreased by over two percentage points from the previous year. The lowest figure was in the South West and West Midlands (with both at just under 8 per cent).

These estimates should be interpreted with care. The results for London and the South East in particular, say as much about the economic ‘pull’ of these regions and the mobility of people with certain qualifications, as they do about the social and demographic characteristics of other regions.

Chart 9(b)

Chart 9(d)

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